Behind the scenes of plan B: the migration crisis seen from the perspective of the Visegrad Group

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Series Details 17.02.16
Publication Date 17/02/2016
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The Visegrad Group’s Prague summit on 15 February 2016 was another initiative aimed at coordinating the standpoints assumed by Central European countries in the EU’s discussion concerning the migration crisis. One of the strategic goals of the V4 was to maintain a functioning Schengen Area. The Visegrad Group leaders believed that this was impossible unless control of the EU’s external borders was regained. During the meeting, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, along with the president of Macedonia and the prime minister of Bulgaria, declared support for the EU’s moves aimed at slowing down the influx of migrants to the EU via the Balkans. They also appealed to the EU to prepare a ‘backup plan’ aimed at reducing the permeability of the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece which would be launched if attempts to stop uncontrolled migration from Turkey to the EU turned out to be unsuccessful. Although Slovakia and Hungary strongly criticised Athens before the summit, the final declaration emphasised the need for all EU member states (including Greece) and transit countries to co-operate in order to resolve the migration crisis. The Central European leaders emphasised that the Visegrad Group’s backup plan was complementary to the EU’s efforts to control the wave of migration. The V4’s stance was also presented this way with the intention to dispel the mainly German and Greek fears that the Visegrad Group would develop a separate plan, uncoordinated with the rest of the EU, to stop the wave of migration in the Balkans. However, even though it has been put more mildly, the V4’s demands could still be used to put pressure on Greece to accelerate the construction of hotspots and to regain control of the Schengen Area’s external border. The V4 countries have spoken once again against the introduction of the automatic mechanism for relocating refugees.

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Related Links
ESO: Key Source: The Visegrad Group
ESO: Background information: Visegrad countries call for ‘alternative plan’ to counter migration crisis

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